By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
How subjective ‘value for money’ must be. The man who has wasted £600 million during office thanks to a collection of poor decisions, ideological dogma and vanity schemes yesterday pulled the plug on the Tour de France Grand Depart because £35 million is an “awful lot to spend” on “one event”.
Loosely translated, Boris didn’t see the ego boost in an event which would be presided over by a future Mayor and has instead opted to throw money at a Boris Lane for his Boris Bikes to ensure the city speaks of its affable blonde buffoon well in to the future.
But thriftiness is a piss poor cover up. In his two terms as London Mayor Boris Johnson has been anything but a bastion of fiscal responsibility. An FOI request by this publication unveiled that the Mayor wasted £5.2m on lobbying for The Thames estuary airport, a scheme that would have cost £112 billion if it had gone ahead, five times more expensive than the three short-listed options.
And the Borisisms don’t end there.
The £5.2 million squandered on Boris Island is nothing compared to the £302 million spent on Boris Busses, or Routemaster, which the taxpayers still don’t own the Intellectual property rights to and are likely to be abandoned as a bad idea.
The Boris Cannon, which cannot (or should not) be used, Boris Bridge, which is neither a garden or a functioning bridge, and the Boris cable car, which is sapping up public funds despite promises to the contrary, are also examples of where the public has not seen the, yes, ‘value for money’.
But even if we were to cast aside assertions that Boris has the taxpayer’s interest at heart, it still doesn’t account for the fact that Le Grand Depart is, in fact, tremendous value for money. Sir Gary Verity, the man responsible for bringing the 2014 Tour to Yorkshire, told The Yorkshire Post that the economic benefit of the Grand Depart from the weekend alone was £102 million, and it has boosted visitor numbers to the area by 25 per cent since.
He said: “From our point of view, it was tremendous value for money last year. The return on investment was either between five or six times, which is a pretty good return on investment I think in anybody’s books and the long-term legacy benefits for us of hosting the Tour de France are still being seen.
“It was a multimillion-pound investment and we think that the pay-back from that for the wider benefit across Yorkshire will continue, not just from last summer to this summer, but for many years to come.”
The decision to pull out of the 2017 Grand Depart comes as the UK, primarily London, hosts the Rugby World Cup which is expected generate £2.2 billion total output and add £982 million to GDP. Some 466,000 international visitors are expected to visit the UK during the event with long-term economic benefits expected. The 2012 Olympics, admittedly on a different scale, brought a £9.9 billion boost in trade and investment.
So forgive me for being crude, but the next time you see Boris out on his bike feel free to borrow my French. Our spendthrift Mayor has sacrificed a big opportunity for the city in favour of yet another vanity project. He deserves it. Le d*ckhead.